States will gain large, widespread, and nearly immediate health benefits if EPA sets strong standards in the final Clean Power Plan, according to the first independent, peer-reviewed paper of its kind, published today in the journal Nature Climate Change.
The researchers analyzed three options for power plant carbon standards. The top option in the study prevents an expected 3,500 premature deaths in the US every year, with a range of 780 to up to 6100. It also averts more than a thousand heart attacks and hospitalizations annually from air pollution-related illness. But weaker options considered in the study provide fewer estimated health benefits and could even have detrimental health effects, according to the paper.
The study comes at a pivotal time for climate policy as EPA prepares to release the final Clean Power Plan this summer. The Plan is the nation's first attempt to establish standards for carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. It is also viewed as an important signal of US leadership in the run-up to international climate negotiations in Paris in December.